England Women 36-10 France Women: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

England Women continued their preparation for this year’s World Cup with a comprehensive win over France today.

The French did make England work hard for the win but in the end the quality in the England ranks saw them pull away to a comfortable win.

Highlights:

Something about the name Dodd
A few months back if I’d have told you we’d be raving about a Dodd in an England shirt, you’d think I was speaking about Lewis Dodd after his exceptional start to the season for St Helens. However, Hollie Dodd certainly stood up with him unable to feature for the men later today. She showed the kind of footwork we’ve come to expect from Lewis to wrong foot the cover defence after a lovely ball from Georgia Roche.

Sleek move seals second for England
After a sluggish start, England were in for their second try of the game when a sleek passing move from England created the space for Cailtlin Beevers to cross in the left corner. The space had been created by Jodie Cunningham demonstrating the importance of a balling playing 13.

Back-to-back tries for England
It was two tries in quick succession for England when they again turned to the left edge. This time Amy Hardcastle hitting a good line to carve open the French defence before running 35 metres untouched to score.

French show what they can do
After a first 35 minutes which belonged to England – despite some French resistance at the start of the half – France showed what they could do carving up England down the middle before producing a number of lovely offloads to seemingly create a try for Margot Canal. She was held short but a quick play the ball and a pass later and Cristina Song Puche was diving over for the try.

Hardcastle at the double
Amy Hardcastle notched her second try of the game eight minutes into the second half again hitting a hard line but this time showing great strength to wrestle the ball down and get the score board ticking in the second stanza. She often seems to demonstrate that kind of try scoring power in the same vein as Ryan Hall used to do for the men’s side. He used to operate at a try per game in internationals and she’s presently doing the same.

Tackle of the game can’t prevent try
As England broke down the right with Leah Burke they looked certain to score but for a huge and physical challenge from Elisa Akpa who produced the tackle of the game to deny her. However, a keep play the ball coupled with some fancy feet from Georgia Roche saw her cross for a deserved try.

Talking Points:

England take their time to find their rhythm
It took England a while to truly get a grip of today’s game as they were expected to do so prior to the game. A few errors and some moments where execution let them down as well as some real energy from the French made things tough on England at the start. They’ll have to be quicker against the likes of Australia in the World Cup.

French frustration
After a positive start from the French, frustration began to creep into their game with penalties and errors coming as consequence. This saw England hit them with back to back tries around the half hour mark a crucial spell in the game.

England spine shines
At the heart of every great team, especially at international level, is a superb spine and England showed they have that today. At fullback Tara Stanley was always a nuisance on kick returns, whilst Georgia Roche and Courtney Winfield-Hill kicked well all game in the halves and always looked dangerous when taking on the line. Roche also got a deserved try. Meanwhile, Jodie Cunningham linked the attack nicely from 13 stretching the French defence again and again.

England reap the rewards of growing competition
The Women’s Super League has gone from strength to strength and right now has three top teams in the shape of York, Leeds and St Helens and today they reaped the rewards of this developing competition with stars from these three teams crossing for tries.

Player Ratings:

England
1 Tara Stanley – 8
2 Leah Burke – 7
3 Fran Goldthorpe – 7
4 Amy Hardcastle – 9
5 Caitlin Beevers – 8
6 Courtney Winfield-Hill – 9
7 Georgia Roche – 9
8 Grace Field – 7
9 Tara Jones – 7
10 Olivia Wood – 7
11 Emily Rudge – 8
12 Hollie Dodd – 8
13 Jodie Cunningham – 9
Substitutes
14 Shona Hoyle – 7
15 Keara Bennett – 7
16 Paige Travis – 7
17 Vicky Whitfield – 8

France
1 Elisa Akpa – 7
5 Cristina Song Puche – 7
4 Laureane Biville – 8
3 Margot Canal – 7
2 Manon Samarra – 6
6 Elisa Ciria – 6
7 Alice Varela – 6
8 Elodie Pacull – 6
9 Cyndia Mansard – 7
10 Gaelle Alvernhe – 6
11 Sarah Menaa – 6
12 Perrine Monsarrat – 6
13 Leila Bessahli – 6
Substitutes
14 Mailys Borak – 6
15 Dorine Samarra – 6
16 Anais Fourcroy – 6
17 Fanny Ramos – 6

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